Author Archive

Nation’s Fastest High School Runners Go For a Walk

December 12th, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

The day before the 32nd annual Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships, the 40 fastest boys and girls from all over the country got a chance to visit the daunting Balboa Park cross country course in San Diego. It’s become as much of a tradition as the race itself and several of the sport’s top athletes, who got their start at this race when they were in high school, came back to lead them on the course.

Boys & Girls High School Rings in a New Basketball Season

December 6th, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

Last week, Boys & Girls High School, the reigning PSAL City Champions, started a new season in style: with bling. Community leaders from Bedford Stuyvesant, where Boys & Girls is located, are raising money for championship rings and on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the team collected their winnings.

Clinton Hill on Marathon Sunday

November 29th, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

A mile down the road from Brooklyn Academy of Music, which doubles on Marathon Sunday as the borough’s most densely-packed area for crowds on the course, Lafayette Avenue in Clinton Hill is just as vibrant, if slightly less prominent.

Against a backdrop of the towering Lafayette Gardens, a troubled housing project that has had two murders since August, an entire community – residents, elected officials, churchgoers and casual fans – turned out this month to cheer on the 40,000 runners to participate in the 2010 New York City Marathon.

This Week’s Crime Blotter From the 88th Precinct (Fort Greene and Clinton Hill)

November 22nd, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

In tracking this week’s crime with a map, the majority of assaults, thefts and robberies were concentrated in a densely populated section of Fort Greene, several of which targeted strap hangars emerging from the subway.

The spate of criminal activity here is nothing new to this area and comes less than a month after the 88th Precinct acknowledged the trend at its community council meeting. The precinct has pledged to disperse more cops on the ground in response.

The crime map is curated from complainant reports of the 88th Precinct’s crime blotter, which gets published each week by  The Local, a hyperlocal blog covering Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. The descriptions were written by esteemed crime reporter An Phung.

Food Vendor Catwalk in the Garment District

November 15th, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

Within just a block radius in midtown Manhattan, between Broadway and 7th Ave. and 40th to 39th Sts., there are more than a dozen vendors selling food on the street. The options are limited to the basics – fruit, pastries, candy and, in one case, baked potatoes. Here are some images from some of the vendors I visited on a recent rainy day.

Here’s the scene set to some nice music (Music Credit: Travis Morgan)

8 out 10 Active Runners Will Suffer Injury in Their Career

November 8th, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

If the highly-acclaimed British Journal of Sports Medicine and my little old informal – and wholly unscientific – survey are an indication,  runners hoping to remain injury-free face pretty stiff odds.

You heard that right. I put my research methods in the same sentence as the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Why? In a story about red flags that runners raise for health insurers, the New York Times cited one of their studies that “found rates of injury to the lower extremities were as high as 79 percent in long-distance runners.” (more…)

Cotton Motivation: These Cross Country T-Shirts Say It All

October 15th, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

A quirky high school cross country tradition is the team t-shirt, which boasts a quote, virtue or slogan to serve as its unofficial motto. Much like the personalities of the athletes who wear them, these shirts run the gamut of uniqueness, ranging from inspiring to intimidating to silly to personal.

Dozens of these shirts were on display last weekend in the Bronx at Van Cortlandt Park. It was the 38th running of the Manhattan Invitational, the world’s largest single-day cross country meet, which featured 300 teams from more than a dozen states in 40 races.

Here’s just a sampling of the t-shirt mottos I saw, complete with an explanation from the coaches and runners who wore them: (more…)

Three Marathon Training Pitfalls (and how to avoid them)

October 3rd, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

Runners at the finish of the 2009 New York City Marathon

With the New York City marathon little more than a month away, more than 40,000 runners, the world’s largest field, are about to enter their final phase of training. These last few weeks are crucial to ensuring runners are primed when they toe the line on race day. To get their, however, runners face a slew of pesky challenges capable of derailing months of hard work.

I exchanged emails with several marathon coaches and asked them what the biggest pitfalls are and how runners can deal with them. (more…)

Basic Tips for Avoiding Bedbugs

September 28th, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

Cover page for the City Government's "Bed Bug Guide"

Bedbugs seem to be on the minds of every New Yorker these days, but, hysteria aside, public awareness is limited. Talk to any number of New Yorkers, from regular citizens to experts to city officials, and you’ll find their impression of the bloodsucking pests is filled with half-truths and vague assumptions.

Part of the reason for that is that not a whole lot is known about them. Even to scientists who study the critters, New York Times reported last month, they are a mystery:

Ask any expert why the bugs disappeared for 40 years, why they came roaring back in the late 1990s, even why they do not spread disease, and you hear one answer: “Good question.”

They are incredibly evasive. The apple-seed-sized Bedbugs are nocturnal, preferring to feed on humans at night under the cloak of an anesthetic they emit to numb any sting. When they’re not biting, they’re usually nestled away in some deep fabric, like a mattress or bedspring, or for more mobile means, on clothes and bags.

Indeed, many people with infested homes have never even seen them.

But there are some known facts about bedbugs and, more importantly, known ways to prevent and, if infested, get rid of them. As part of research I did for a story on bed bugs in New York city schools last week, I spoke to several exterminators and experts to help clear up the confusion.

According to the NYC private residence manual, titled “Preventing and Getting Rid of Bed Bugs” there are several basic maintenance steps to take, including:

  1. Seal cracks and crevices in the floors and on the walls with caulk.
  2. Regularly clean and vacuum in areas that gather dust and debris
  3. Get rid of clutter, to reduce the amount of places that bed bugs can borough

Another suggestion, which came from exterminator Elio Chiavola, is to buy a sealable mattress cloth cover, which can be bought for about $60 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

But as I learned from my reporting on bed bugs in schools, which revealed that last year there were more than 1019 confirmed cases of bedbugs in New York City schools, the problem doesn’t necessarily begin and end at home.

Schools, retails stores, office buildings and movie theaters aren’t natural habitat for bed bugs, mainly because it isn’t where people rest at night, but anywhere large masses of people gather are particular vulnerable areas. Bedbugs can jump from person to person when people bring them from infested homes.

From here, the pests hitch a ride home on clothing or bags.

“They are a major transfer point from one place to another,” said Mike Orlino, President of Superior Pest Elimination.

With that in mind there are some additional, more proactive things people can do to prevent them from even getting into the home in the first place.

Chiavola believes that every citizen should own their own personal supply of SteriFab, an alcohol-based spray that kills bugs on contact, any time you come and go from your apartment.

As a general rule, it’s wise to avoid purchasing used furniture, according to the New York City Bed Bug Advisory Board, which published a comprehensive report on the matter in July.

  • Bed bugs don’t just live in beds. Wood or metal or plastic furniture, sofas, chairs, tables and many other household items may be infested with bed bugs.
  • Used furniture and refurbished mattresses may have bed bugs and bed bug eggs that are difficult to see.

While the jury is still out on whether bed bugs are bound to officially take over the city (insert hysteria here!), hopefully these basic tips can at least help you avoid being their next victim.

Man’s Best Friend: The New Weapon in the War on Bed Bugs

September 20th, 2010 by Geoffrey Decker

By Geoff Decker

Business has been good for Metro Bed Bug Dogs, a small extermination company in New York City that specializes in sniffing out and eradicating bed bug infestations. Two years ago, the company invested heavily in its most prized asset: a 20 lb. rat terrier named Chopper. Bed bug sniffing dogs are a new weapon in the war against the resurgent bloodsuckers and Chopper’s good work is paying back big dividends for his owners, earning more than $1200 per residential visit.